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SCOTCHFORT, P.E.I. - A new cooking class is promoting nutrition in P.E.I.’s Indigenous community by helping participants combine traditional dishes with modern methods.
Melody Hyde, dietitian and health promotion co-ordinator for the Abegweit First Nation, delivered a program called Slow Cooked Dreams at the Abegweit Wellness Centre in Scotchfort, using a slow cooker to prepare healthy meals.
“Everybody could look at the options and pick meals that they wanted to make,” Hyde said. “Everybody left with five meals they could put in the freezer and pop into their slow cooker, so their family could have a hot, balanced nutritious meal at the end of the day.”
Supported by a Wellness Grant from the provincial government, the program offered four classes in which participants could pre-make a week’s worth of meals featuring beef, pork, chicken or vegetarian options.
Hyde based her approach on the four points of the Mi’kmaq medicine wheel – focusing each of her four classes on physical, emotional, spiritual and mental health.
“Each week we would make what we call a smart goal in one of these areas – something specific, achievable and measurable,” said Hyde. “Something like increasing vegetables or getting three colours of food on a plate.”
Hyde said her work is helping people in the community prepare healthy meals using less time and money.
“A lot of the work here is seasonal, and in the off-season money can be tight. Slow Cooked Dreams covers budgeting, shopping and cooking. We’re looking at affordable versions of meals that people can have ready to go. Everybody wants to be able to provide their family with something good to eat.”
- Melody Hyde
“Food insecurity is an issue,” said Hyde. “A lot of the work here is seasonal and in the off-season money can be tight. Slow Cooked Dreams covers budgeting, shopping and cooking. We’re looking at affordable versions of meals that people can have ready to go. Everybody wants to be able to provide their family with something good to eat.”
Hyde based her classes on Slow Cooked Dreams developed by Cape Breton-based Nadine Bernard who incorporates native traditions and teaching into a program that delivers affordable, accessible recipes.
More than 60 projects have received Wellness Grant funding since the program launched in January 2015.
The classes were delivered with the help of nurse Melissa Jadis and the support of the Abegweit Wellness Centre, and food from Epekwitk Gardens and Preserves.